New Delhi: For the first time in 12 years, the number of applicants for the common admission test (CAT) of the elite Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) has dropped, reflecting lingering economic insecurity in the aftermath of a placement season marked by conservative job offers and smaller pay packages.
Many candidates with jobs are possibly fearful of giving them up to apply for a high-stakes seat in IIMs, and succeed, only to re-enter an uncertain job market after two years, said Satish Deodhar, faculty member of IIM Ahmedabad (IIM-A), convenor of a panel of the seven IIMs that’s overseeing the launch of a computer-based CAT for the first time.
Candidates’ attitude is “I have my job, let me keep my job,” said Deodhar.
Slowdown effect: A file photo of IIM Ahmedabad. Average salaries for domestic jobs offered to IIM-A graduates dropped 32% in 2009. Amit Dave / Mint
The number of candidates who registered for the test fell to 241,582, a 1.8% decline from the 246,000 candidates who took the test last year to win a seat at the premier business schools.
The number of registrations has fallen for the first time since 1997, according to Gautam Puri, a 1993 graduate of IIM Bangalore and vice-chairman of test prep firm Career Launcher India Ltd.
“This year candidates had probably noticed the effect on salaries and employment due to (the) economic slowdown,” said Deodhar.
Average salaries for domestic jobs offered to the graduating batch of IIM-A, the country’s best known B-school, dropped 32% in 2009 amid the economic downturn. The placement process lasted nine days, the longest in the school’s recent history.
CAT will be administered online for the first time this year between 28 November and 7 December. Prometric Testing Pvt. Ltd, the India unit of US-based testing company Prometric Inc., has been tasked to conduct the test for five years.
Deodhar said that asking candidates to carefully choose their programmes might have also led to the fall in applications. “Also, we went paperless and requested candidates to visit IIM websites, check eligibilities, decide which programmes they are interested in, and then choose to buy CAT vouchers,” he said.